Philomela or Philomel is a minor figure in Greek mythology and is invoked as a direct and figurative symbol in literary and musical works in the Western canon. She is identified as being the "princess of Athens" and the younger of two daughters of Pandion I, King of Athens, Zeuxippe, her sister, was the wife of King Tereus of Thrace. While the myth has several variations, the general depiction is that Philomela, after being raped and mutilated by her sister's husband, obtains her revenge and is transformed into a nightingale, a migratory passerine bird native to Europe and southwest Asia and noted for its song; because of the violence associated with the myth, the song of the nightingale is depicted or interpreted as a sorrowful lament. Coincidentally, in nature, the female nightingale is mute and only the male of the species sings. Ovid and other writers have made the association that the etymology of her name was "lover of song," derived from the Greek φιλο- and μέλος instead of μῆλον; the name means "lover of fruit," "lover of apples," or "lover of sheep."
The most complete and extant rendering of the story of Philomela and Tereus can be found in Book VI of the Metamorphoses of the Roman poet Ovid, where the story reaches its full development during antiquity. It is that Ovid relied upon Greek and Latin sources that were available in his era such as the Bibliotheca of Pseudo-Apollodorus, or sources that are no longer extant or exist today only in fragments—especially Sophocles' tragic drama Tereus. According to Ovid, in the fifth year of Procne's marriage to Tereus, King of Thrace and son of Ares, she asked her husband to "Let me at Athens my dear sister see / Or let her come to Thrace, visit me." Tereus agreed to escort her sister, Philomela, to Thrace. King Pandion of Athens, the father of Philomela and Procne, was apprehensive about letting his one remaining daughter leave his home and protection and asks Tereus to protect her as if he were her father. Tereus agrees. However, Tereus lusted for Philomela when he first saw her, that lust grew during the course of the return voyage to Thrace.
Arriving in Thrace, he raped her. After the assault, Tereus advised her to keep silent. Philomela was angered Tereus. In his rage, he abandoned her in the cabin. In Ovid's Metamorphoses Philomela's defiant speech is rendered as: Rendered unable to speak because of her injuries, Philomela wove a tapestry that told her story and had it sent to Procne. Procne was incensed and in revenge, she killed her son by Tereus, boiled him and served him as a meal to her husband. After Tereus ate Itys, the sisters presented him with the severed head of his son, he became aware of their conspiracy and his cannibalistic meal, he pursued them with the intent to kill the sisters. They fled but were overtaken by Tereus at Daulia in Phocis. In desperation, they prayed to the gods to be turned into birds and escape Tereus' rage and vengeance; the gods transformed Procne into a Philomela into a nightingale. Subsequently, the gods would transform Tereus into a hoopoe, it is typical for myths from antiquity to have been altered over the passage of time or for competing variations of the myth to emerge.
With the story of Philomela, most of the variations concern which sister became the nightingale or the swallow, into what type of bird Tereus was transformed. Since Ovid's Metamorphoses, it has been accepted that Procne was transformed into a nightingale, Philomela into a swallow; the description of Tereus as an "epops" has been translated as a hoopoe. Since many of the earlier sources are no longer extant, or remain only fragments, Ovid's version of the myth has been the most lasting and influenced most works. Early Greek sources have it. Sources, among them Ovid and the Bibliotheca of Pseudo-Apollodorus, in modern literature the English romantic poets like Keats write that although she was tongueless, Philomela was turned into a nightingale, Procne into a swallow. Eustathius' version of the story has the sisters reversed, so that Philomela married Tereus and that Tereus lusted after Procne, it is salient to note that in taxonomy and binomial nomenclature, the genus name of the martins is Progne, a Latinized form of Procne.
Other related genera named after the myth include the Crag Martins Ptyonoprogne, Saw-wings Psalidoprocne. Coincidentally, although most of the depictions of the nightingale and its song in art and literature are of female nightingales, the female of the species does not sing—it is the male of the species who sings its characteristic song. In an early account, Sophocles wrote that Tereus was turned into a large-beaked bird whom some scholars translate as a hawk while a number of retellings and other works hold that Tereus was instead changed into a hoopoe. Various translations of Ovid state that Tereus was transformed into other birds than the hawk and hoopoe, including references by Dryden and Gower to the lapwing. Several writers omit key details of the story. According to Pausanias, Tereus was so remorseful for his actions against Philomela and Itys (the nature of the actions is no
In Greek mythology, the Naiads are a type of female spirit, or nymph, presiding over fountains, springs, streams and other bodies of fresh water. They are distinct from river gods, who embodied rivers, the ancient spirits that inhabited the still waters of marshes and lagoon-lakes, such as pre-Mycenaean Lerna in the Argolis. Naiads were associated with fresh water, as the Oceanids were with saltwater and the Nereids with the Mediterranean, but because the ancient Greeks thought of the world's waters as all one system, which percolated in from the sea in deep cavernous spaces within the earth, there was some overlap. Arethusa, the nymph of a spring, could make her way through subterranean flows from the Peloponnesus, to surface on the island of Sicily; the Greek word is Ναϊάς, plural Ναϊάδες It derives from νάειν, "to flow", or νᾶμα, "running water". "Naiad" has several English pronunciations:. They were the object of archaic local cults, worshipped as essential to humans. Boys and girls at coming-of-age ceremonies dedicated their childish locks to the local naiad of the spring.
In places like Lerna their waters' ritual cleansings were credited with magical medical properties. Animals were ritually drowned there. Oracles might be situated by ancient springs. Naiads could be dangerous: Hylas of the Argo's crew was lost when he was taken by naiads fascinated by his beauty; the naiads were known to exhibit jealous tendencies. Theocritus' story of naiad jealousy was that of a shepherd, the lover of Nomia or Echenais. Salmacis forced the youth Hermaphroditus into a carnal embrace and, when he sought to get away, fused with him; the water nymph associated with particular springs was known all through Europe in places with no direct connection with Greece, surviving in the Celtic wells of northwest Europe that have been rededicated to Saints, in the medieval Melusine. Walter Burkert points out, "When in the Iliad Zeus calls the gods into assembly on Mount Olympus, it is not only the well-known Olympians who come along, but all the nymphs and all the rivers. Robert Graves offered a sociopolitical reading of the common myth-type in which a mythic king is credited with marrying a naiad and founding a city: it was the newly arrived Hellenes justifying their presence.
The loves and rapes of Zeus, according to Graves' readings, record the supplanting of ancient local cults by Olympian ones. So, in the back-story of the myth of Aristaeus, Hypseus, a king of the Lapiths, married Chlidanope, a naiad, who bore him Cyrene. Aristaeus had more than ordinary mortal experience with the naiads: when his bees died in Thessaly, he went to consult them, his aunt Arethusa invited him below the water's surface, where he was washed with water from a perpetual spring and given advice. St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans was known as Nyades Street, is parallel to Dryades Street. Bibliotheca 2.95, 2.11, 2.21, 2.23, 1.61, 1.81, 1.7.6 Homer. Odyssey 13.355, 17.240, Iliad 14.440, 20.380 Ovid. Metamorphoses Hesiod. Theogony Burkert, Greek Religion, Harvard University Press, 1985. ISBN 0-674-36281-0. Robert Graves, The Greek Myths 1955 Edgar Allan Poe, "Sonnet to Science" 1829 Naiad Nymphs
Troy was a city in the far northwest of the region known in late Classical antiquity as Asia Minor, now known as Anatolia in modern Turkey, just south of the southwest mouth of the Dardanelles strait and northwest of Mount Ida. The present-day location is known as Hisarlik, it was the setting of the Trojan War described in the Greek Epic Cycle, in particular in the Iliad, one of the two epic poems attributed to Homer. Metrical evidence from the Iliad and the Odyssey suggests that the name Ἴλιον began with a digamma: Ϝίλιον. A new capital called, it flourished until the establishment of Constantinople, became a bishopric and declined in the Byzantine era, but is now a Latin Catholic titular see. In 1865, English archaeologist Frank Calvert excavated trial trenches in a field he had bought from a local farmer at Hisarlik, in 1868, Heinrich Schliemann, a wealthy German businessman and archaeologist began excavating in the area after a chance meeting with Calvert in Çanakkale; these excavations revealed several cities built in succession.
Schliemann was at first skeptical about the identification of Hisarlik with Troy, but was persuaded by Calvert and took over Calvert's excavations on the eastern half of the Hisarlik site, on Calvert's property. Troy VII has been identified with the city called Wilusa by the Hittites and is identified with Homeric Troy. Today, the hill at Hisarlik has given its name to a small village near the ruins, which supports the tourist trade visiting the Troia archaeological site, it lies within the province of Çanakkale, some 30 km south-west of the provincial capital called Çanakkale. The nearest village is Tevfikiye; the map here shows the adapted Scamander estuary with Ilium a little way inland across the Homeric plain. Due to Troy's location near the Aegean Sea, the Sea of Marmara, the Black Sea, it was a central hub for the military and trade. Troy was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1998. Ancient Greek historians variously placed the Trojan War in the 12th, 13th, or 14th centuries BC: Eratosthenes to 1184 BC, Herodotus to 1250 BC, Duris of Samos to 1334 BC.
Modern archaeologists associate Homeric Troy with archaeological Troy VII. In the Iliad, the Achaeans set up their camp near the mouth of the River Scamander, where they beached their ships; the city of Troy itself stood on a hill, across the plain of Scamander, where the battles of the Trojan War took place. The site of the ancient city is some 5 km from the coast today, but 3,000 years ago the mouths of Scamander were much closer to the city, discharging into a large bay that formed a natural harbor, which has since been filled with alluvial material. Recent geological findings have permitted the identification of the ancient Trojan coastline, the results confirm the accuracy of the Homeric geography of Troy. In November 2001, the geologist John C. Kraft from the University of Delaware and the classicist John V. Luce from Trinity College, presented the results of investigations, begun in 1977, into the geology of the region, they compared the present geology with the landscapes and coastal features described in the Iliad and other classical sources, notably Strabo's Geographia, concluded that there is a regular consistency between the location of Schliemann's Troy and other locations such as the Greek camp, the geological evidence, descriptions of the topography and accounts of the battle in the Iliad.
Besides the Iliad, there are references to Troy in the other major work attributed to Homer, the Odyssey, as well as in other ancient Greek literature. The Homeric legend of Troy was elaborated by the Roman poet Virgil in his Aeneid; the Greeks and Romans took for a fact the historicity of the Trojan War and the identity of Homeric Troy with the site in Anatolia. Alexander the Great, for example, visited the site in 334 BC and there made sacrifices at tombs associated with the Homeric heroes Achilles and Patroclus. After the 1995 find of a Luwian biconvex seal at Troy VII, there has been a heated discussion over the language, spoken in Homeric Troy. Frank Starke of the University of Tübingen demonstrated that the name of Priam, king of Troy at the time of the Trojan War, is connected to the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means "exceptionally courageous". "The certainty is growing that Wilusa/Troy belonged to the greater Luwian-speaking community," although it is not clear whether Luwian was the official language or in daily colloquial use.
With the rise of critical history and the Trojan War were, for a long time, consigned to the realms of legend. However, the true location of ancient Troy had from classical times remained the subject of interest and speculation; the Troad peninsula was anticipated to be the location. Early modern travellers in the 16th and 17th centuries, including Pierre Belon and Pietro Della Valle, had identified Troy with Alexandria Troas, a ruined town 20 km south of the accepted location. In the late 18th century, Jean Baptiste LeChevalier had identified a location near the village of Pınarbaşı, Ezine as the site of Troy, a mound 5 km south of the accepted location. LeChavalier's location, published in his Voyage de la Troade, was the most accepted theory for a century. In 1822, the Scottis
Alcman was an Ancient Greek choral lyric poet from Sparta. He is the earliest representative of the Alexandrian canon of the nine lyric poets. Alcman's dates are uncertain, but he was active in the late seventh century BC; the name of his mother is not known. Alcman's nationality was disputed in antiquity; the records of the ancient authors were deduced from biographic readings of their poetry, the details are untrustworthy. Antipater of Thessalonica wrote that poets have "many mothers" and that the continents of Europe and Asia both claimed Alcman as their son. Assumed to have been born in Sardis, capital of ancient Lydia, the Suda claims that Alcman was a Laconian from Messoa; the compositeness of his dialect may have helped to maintain the uncertainty of his origins, but the many references to Lydian and Asian culture in Alcman's poetry must have played a considerable role in the tradition of Alcman's Lydian origin. Thus Alcman claims he learned his skills from the "strident partridges", a bird native to Asia Minor and not found in Greece.
The ancient scholars seem to refer to one particular song, in which the chorus says: "He was no rustic man, nor clumsy nor Thessalian by race nor an Erysichaean shepherd: he was from lofty Sardis." Yet, given that there was a discussion, it cannot have been certain, the third person of this fragment. Some modern scholars defend his Lydian origin on the basis of the language of some fragments or the content. However, Sardis of the 7th century BC was a cosmopolitan city; the implicit and explicit references to Lydian culture may be a means of describing the girls of the choruses as fashionable. One tradition, going back to Aristotle, holds that Alcman came to Sparta as a slave to the family of Agesidas, by whom he was emancipated because of his great skill. Aristotle reported that it was believed Alcman died from a pustulant infestation of lice, but he may have been mistaken for the philosopher Alcmaeon of Croton. According to Pausanias, he is buried in Sparta next to the tomb of Helen of Troy.
There were six books of Alcman's choral poetry in antiquity, but they were lost at the threshold of the Medieval Age, Alcman was known only through fragmentary quotations in other Greek authors until the discovery of a papyrus in 1855 in a tomb near the second pyramid at Saqqâra in Egypt. The fragment, now kept at the Louvre in Paris, contains 100 verses of a so-called partheneion, i.e. a song performed by a chorus of young unmarried women. In the 1960s, many more fragments were published in the collection of the Egyptian papyri found in a dig at an ancient garbage dump at Oxyrhynchus. Most of these fragments contain poems, but there are other kinds of hymns among them. Pausanias says that though Alcman used the Doric dialect, which does not sound beautiful, it did not at all spoil the beauty of his songs. Alcman's songs were composed in the Doric dialect of Sparta; this is seen in the orthographic peculiarities of the fragments like α = η, ω = ου, η = ει, σ = θ and the use of the Doric accentuation, though it is uncertain whether these features were present in Alcman's original compositions or were added either by Laconian performers in the subsequent generations or by Alexandrian scholars who gave the text a Doric feel using features of the contemporary, not the ancient, Doric dialect.
Apollonius Dyscolus describes Alcman as συνεχῶς αἰολίζων "constantly using the Aeolic dialect". However, the validity of this judgment is limited by the fact that it is said about the use of the digamma in the third-person pronoun ϝός "his/her". Yet, many existing fragments display prosodic and phraseological features common to the Homeric language of Greek epic poetry, markedly Aeolic and un-Doric features which are not present in Homer itself but will pass on to all the subsequent lyric poets; this mixing of features adds complexity to any analysis of his works. The British philologist Denys Page comes to the following conclusion about Alcman's dialect in his influential monograph: To judge from his larger fragments, Alcman's poetry was strophic: Different metres are combined into long stanzas, which are repeated several times. One popular metre is the dactylic tetrameter; the type of songs Alcman composed most appear to be hymns and prooimia. Much of what little exists consists of fragments, difficult to categorize.
The most important fragment is the First Partheneion or Louvre-Partheneion, found in 1855 in Saqqara in Egypt by the French scholar Auguste Mariette. This Partheneion consists of 101 lines, of which more than 30 are damaged, it is hard to say anything about this fragment, scholars have debated since the discovery and publication about its content and the occasion on which this partheneion could have been performed. The choral lyrics of Alcman were meant to be performed within the social and religious context of Sparta. Most of the existing fragments are lines from partheneia; these hymns are sung by choruses of unmarried women, but it is unclear how the partheneia were performed. The Swiss scholar Claude Calame treats them as a type of drama by choruses of girls, he connects them with initiation rites
Greek mythology is the body of myths told by the ancient Greeks. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities and mythological creatures, the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks' own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars study the myths in an attempt to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece and its civilization, to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself; the Greek myths were propagated in an oral-poetic tradition most by Minoan and Mycenaean singers starting in the 18th century BC. Two poems by Homer's near contemporary Hesiod, the Theogony and the Works and Days, contain accounts of the genesis of the world, the succession of divine rulers, the succession of human ages, the origin of human woes, the origin of sacrificial practices. Myths are preserved in the Homeric Hymns, in fragments of epic poems of the Epic Cycle, in lyric poems, in the works of the tragedians and comedians of the fifth century BC, in writings of scholars and poets of the Hellenistic Age, in texts from the time of the Roman Empire by writers such as Plutarch and Pausanias.
Aside from this narrative deposit in ancient Greek literature, pictorial representations of gods and mythic episodes featured prominently in ancient vase-paintings and the decoration of votive gifts and many other artifacts. Geometric designs on pottery of the eighth century BC depict scenes from the Trojan cycle as well as the adventures of Heracles. In the succeeding Archaic and Hellenistic periods and various other mythological scenes appear, supplementing the existing literary evidence. Greek mythology has had an extensive influence on the culture and literature of Western civilization and remains part of Western heritage and language. Poets and artists from ancient times to the present have derived inspiration from Greek mythology and have discovered contemporary significance and relevance in the themes. Greek mythology is known today from Greek literature and representations on visual media dating from the Geometric period from c. 900 BC to c. 800 BC onward. In fact and archaeological sources integrate, sometimes mutually supportive and sometimes in conflict.
Mythical narration plays an important role in nearly every genre of Greek literature. The only general mythographical handbook to survive from Greek antiquity was the Library of Pseudo-Apollodorus; this work attempts to reconcile the contradictory tales of the poets and provides a grand summary of traditional Greek mythology and heroic legends. Apollodorus of Athens wrote on many of these topics, his writings may have formed the basis for the collection. Among the earliest literary sources are the Iliad and the Odyssey. Other poets completed the "epic cycle", but these and lesser poems now are lost entirely. Despite their traditional name, the "Homeric Hymns" have no direct connection with Homer, they are choral hymns from the earlier part of the so-called Lyric age. Hesiod, a possible contemporary with Homer, offers in his Theogony the fullest account of the earliest Greek myths, dealing with the creation of the world. Hesiod's Works and Days, a didactic poem about farming life includes the myths of Prometheus and the Five Ages.
The poet gives advice on the best way to succeed in a dangerous world, rendered yet more dangerous by its gods. Lyrical poets took their subjects from myth, but their treatment became less narrative and more allusive. Greek lyric poets, including Pindar and Simonides, bucolic poets such as Theocritus and Bion, relate individual mythological incidents. Additionally, myth was central to classical Athenian drama; the tragic playwrights Aeschylus and Euripides took most of their plots from myths of the age of heroes and the Trojan War. Many of the great tragic stories took on their classic form in these tragedies; the comic playwright Aristophanes used myths, in The Birds and The Frogs. Historians Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, geographers Pausanias and Strabo, who traveled throughout the Greek world and noted the stories they heard, supplied numerous local myths and legends giving little-known alternative versions. Herodotus in particular, searched the various traditions presented him and found the historical or mythological roots in the confrontation between Greece and the East.
Herodotus attempted to reconcile the blending of differing cultural concepts. The poetry of the Hellenistic and Roman ages was composed as a literary rather than cultic exercise, it contains many important details that would otherwise be lost. This category includes the works of: The Roman poets Ovid, Valerius Flaccus and Virgil with Servius's commentary; the Greek poets of the Late Antique period: Nonnus, Antoninus Liberalis, Quintus Smyrnaeus. The Greek poets of the Hellenistic period: Apollonius of Rhodes, Pseudo-Eratosthenes, Parthenius. Prose writers from the same periods who make reference to myths includ
The Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem in dactylic hexameter, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles. Although the story covers only a few weeks in the final year of the war, the Iliad mentions or alludes to many of the Greek legends about the siege; the epic narrative takes up events prophesied for the future, such as Achilles' imminent death and the fall of Troy, although the narrative ends before these events take place. However, as these events are prefigured and alluded to more and more vividly, when it reaches an end the poem has told a more or less complete tale of the Trojan War; the Iliad is paired with something of a sequel, the Odyssey attributed to Homer. Along with the Odyssey, the Iliad is among the oldest extant works of Western literature, its written version is dated to around the 8th century BC.
In the modern vulgate, the Iliad contains 15,693 lines. According to Michael N. Nagler, the Iliad is a more complicated epic poem than the Odyssey. Note: Book numbers are in parentheses and come before the synopsis of the book. After an invocation to the Muses, the story launches in medias res towards the end of the Trojan War between the Trojans and the besieging Greeks. Chryses, a Trojan priest of Apollo, offers the Greeks wealth for the return of his daughter Chryseis, held captive of Agamemnon, the Greek leader. Although most of the Greek army is in favour of the offer, Agamemnon refuses. Chryses prays for Apollo's help, Apollo causes a plague to afflict the Greek army. After nine days of plague, the leader of the Myrmidon contingent, calls an assembly to deal with the problem. Under pressure, Agamemnon agrees to return Chryseis to her father, but decides to take Achilles' captive, Briseis, as compensation. Achilles furiously will go home. Odysseus takes a ship and returns Chryseis to her father, whereupon Apollo ends the plague.
In the meantime, Agamemnon's messengers take Briseis away. Achilles becomes upset, sits by the seashore, prays to his mother, Thetis. Achilles asks his mother to ask Zeus to bring the Greeks to the breaking point by the Trojans, so Agamemnon will realize how much the Greeks need Achilles. Thetis does so, Zeus agrees. Zeus sends a dream to Agamemnon. Agamemnon heeds the dream but first decides to test the Greek army's morale, by telling them to go home; the plan backfires, only the intervention of Odysseus, inspired by Athena, stops a rout. Odysseus confronts and beats Thersites, a common soldier who voices discontent about fighting Agamemnon's war. After a meal, the Greeks deploy in companies upon the Trojan plain; the poet takes the opportunity to describe the provenance of each Greek contingent. When news of the Greek deployment reaches King Priam, the Trojans respond in a sortie upon the plain. In a list similar to that for the Greeks, the poet describes their allies; the armies approach each other, but before they meet, Paris offers to end the war by fighting a duel with Menelaus, urged by his brother and head of the Trojan army, Hector.
While Helen tells Priam about the Greek commanders from the walls of Troy, both sides swear a truce and promise to abide by the outcome of the duel. Paris is beaten, but Aphrodite rescues him and leads him to bed with Helen before Menelaus can kill him. Pressured by Hera's hatred of Troy, Zeus arranges for the Trojan Pandaros to break the truce by wounding Menelaus with an arrow. Agamemnon rouses the Greeks, battle is joined. In the fighting, Diomedes kills many Trojans, including Pandaros, defeats Aeneas, whom Aphrodite rescues, but Diomedes attacks and wounds the goddess. Apollo warns him against warring with gods. Many heroes and commanders join in, including Hector, the gods supporting each side try to influence the battle. Emboldened by Athena, Diomedes wounds puts him out of action. Hector prevents a rout. Hector enters the city, urges prayers and sacrifices, incites Paris to battle, bids his wife Andromache and son Astyanax farewell on the city walls, rejoins the battle. Hector duels with Ajax, but nightfall interrupts the fight, both sides retire.
The Greeks agree to burn their dead, build a wall to protect their ships and camp, while the Trojans quarrel about returning Helen. Paris offers to return the treasure he took and give further wealth as compensation, but not Helen, the offer is refused. A day's truce is agreed for burning the dead, during which the Greeks build their wall and a trench; the next morning, Zeus prohibits the gods from interfering, fighting begins anew. The Trojans prevail and force the Greeks back to their wall, while Hera and Athena are forbidden to help. Night falls, they camp in the field to attack at first light, their watchfires light the plain like stars. Meanwhile, the Greeks are desperate. Agamemnon admits his error, sends an embassy composed of Odysseus, Ajax and two heralds to offer Briseis and extensive gifts to Achilles, who has be
Bibliotheca historica, is a work of universal history by Diodorus Siculus. It consisted of forty books; the first six books are geographical in theme, describe the history and culture of Egypt, of Mesopotamia, India and Arabia, of North Africa, of Greece and Europe. In the next section, he recounts the history of the world starting with the Trojan War, down to the death of Alexander the Great; the last section concern the historical events from the successors of Alexander down to either 60 BC or the beginning of Caesar's Gallic War in 59 BC. He selected the name "Bibliotheca" in acknowledgement that he was assembling a composite work from many sources. Of the authors he drew from, some who have been identified include: Hecataeus of Abdera, Ctesias of Cnidus, Theopompus, Hieronymus of Cardia, Duris of Samos, Philistus, Timaeus and Posidonius. Diodorus' immense work has not survived intact; the rest exists only in fragments preserved in Photius and the excerpts of Constantine Porphyrogenitus. The earliest date Diodorus mentions is his visit to Egypt in the 180th Olympiad.
This visit was marked by his witnessing an angry mob demand the death of a Roman citizen who had accidentally killed a cat, an animal sacred to the ancient Egyptians. The latest event Diodorus mentions is Octavian's vengeance on the city of Tauromenium, whose refusal to help him led to Octavian's naval defeat nearby in 36 BC. Diodorus shows no knowledge that Egypt became a Roman province—which transpired in 30 BC—so he published his completed work before that event. Diodorus asserts that he devoted thirty years to the composition of his history, that he undertook a number of dangerous journeys through Europe and Asia in prosecution of his historical researches. Modern critics have called this claim into question, noting several surprising mistakes that an eye-witness would not be expected to have made. In the Bibliotheca historica, Diodorus sets out to write a universal history, covering the entire world and all periods of time; each book opens with a table of its contents and a preface discussing the relevance of history, issues in the writing of history or the significance of the events discussed in that book.
These are now agreed to be Diodorus' own work. The degree to which the text that follows is derived from earlier historical works is debated; the first five books describe the history and culture of different regions, without attempting to determine the relative chronology of events. Diodorus expresses serious doubts that such chronology is possible for barbarian lands and the distant past; the resulting books have affinities with the genre of geography. Books six to ten, which covered the transition from mythical times to the archaic period, are entirely lost. By book ten he had taken up an annalistic structure, narrating all the events throughout the world in each year before moving on to the next one. Books eleven to twenty, which are intact and cover events between 480 BC and 302 BC, maintain this annalistic structure. Books twenty-one to forty, which brought the work down to Diodorus' own lifetime, terminating around 60 BC, are lost. Book one opens with a prologue on the work as a whole, arguing for the importance of history and universal history in particular.
The rest of the book is divided into two halves. In the first half he covers the development of civilisation in Egypt. A long discussion of the theories offered by different Greek scholars to explain the annual floods of the River Nile serves to showcase Diodorus' wide-reading. In the second half he presents the history of the country, its customs and religion, in a respectful tone, his main sources are believed to be Hecataeus of Agatharchides of Cnidus. This book has only a short prologue outlining its contents; the majority of the book is devoted to the history of the Assyrians, focussed on the mythical conquests of Ninus and Semiramis, the fall of the dynasty under the effeminate Sardanapallus, the origins of the Medes who overthrew them. This section is explicitly derived from the account of Ctesias of Cnidus; the rest of the book is devoted to describing the various other peoples of Asia. He first describes India, drawing on Megasthenes the Scythians of the Eurasian steppe, including the Amazons and the Hyperboreans) and Arabia Felix.
He finishes the book with an account of the traveller Iambulus' journey to a group of islands in the Indian Ocean, which appears to be based on a Hellenistic utopian novel. In this book, Diodorus describes the geography of North Africa including Ethiopia, the gold mines of Egypt, the Persian Gulf and Libya, where he sites mythical figures including the Gorgons, Amazons and Atlas. Based on the writings on Agatharchides, Diodorus describes gold mining in Egypt, with horrible working conditions: And those who have been condemned in this way—and they are a great multitude and are all bound in chains—work at their task unceasingly both by day and throughout the entire night... For no leniency or respite of any kind is given to any man, sick, or maimed, or aged, or in the case of a woman for her weakness, but all without exception are compelled by bl